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Richards v. Dugger

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga

November 5, 2019

DANNY D. RICHARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
RODERICK J. DUGGER and UNITED ROAD SERVICES, INC., Defendants.

          Lee, Magistrate Judge

          MEMORANDUM

          CURTIS L. COLLIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case arises from a rear-end collision involving Plaintiff's van and Defendants' tractor-trailer. Defendants disclosed Brian M. Boggess, P.E., as their accident reconstruction and biomechanical expert on August 16, 2019. (Doc. 43.) On October 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude Mr. Boggess's expert testimony. (Doc. 68.) Plaintiff argues Mr. Boggess's opinions on the precise cause of Plaintiff's injuries should be excluded because Mr. Boggess is a biomechanical engineer, not a doctor. (Id.) Plaintiff also requests additional time to supplement his motion due to the delay in scheduling Mr. Boggess's deposition. (Id.) Defendants respond that Mr. Boggess is not testifying to the medical cause of Plaintiff's injuries, but rather the kinetic forces at play in the accident and the types of injuries those forces would typically produce. (Doc. 81.) Defendants further explain they timely disclosed Mr. Boggess as an expert and acted reasonably in scheduling Mr. Boggess's deposition and thus Plaintiff should not be permitted to supplement his motion. (Id.) Plaintiff has replied. (Doc. 82.) The Court finds oral argument on Plaintiff's motion is not necessary. For the reasons set out below, the Court will DENY Plaintiff's motion (Doc. 68).

         I. APPLICABLE LAW

         Under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, a witness with sufficient knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion if:

(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

         Fed. R. Evid. 702.

         In fulfilling its gatekeeping role, a district court must first determine if an expert's testimony is reliable and then determine if it is relevant. Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993). “[T]he gatekeeping inquiry must be tied to the facts of a particular case . . . depending on the nature of the issue, the expert's particular expertise, and the subject of his testimony.” Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 150 (1999) (internal quotations omitted). Further, “[i]t is the proponent of the testimony that must establish its admissibility by a preponderance of proof.” Nelson v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 243 F.3d 244, 251 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592 n.10).

         The Supreme Court in Daubert set out a flexible, non-definitive checklist to consult in evaluating reliability: (1) whether the expert's theory can be tested; (2) whether the theory has been subject to peer review and publication; (3) the theory's known error rate; and (4) whether the theory has been generally accepted. See Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593-94. Courts have also noted other relevant factors that may arise, including: whether the opinions were developed solely for purposes of litigation, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 43 F.3d 1311, 1317 (9th Cir. 1995), whether there is too great an analytical gap between the data and the expert opinion, Gen. Elec. Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 147 (1997), and whether the expert has accounted for obvious alternative explanations, Ambrosini v. Labarraque, 101 F.3d 129, 140 (D.C. Cir. 1996).

         In addition to determining reliability, a court must ensure the expert's testimony is relevant. Often referred to as “fit, ” an expert's testimony is relevant if the testimony would be helpful to the jury in resolving issues in dispute. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 591.

         II. ...


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